CHICAGO - July 21, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will enhance public safety by protecting railroad shipments of firearms and other weapons that may be targeted by gangs. The new law will allow police to conduct more thorough investigations into such thefts.
“More frequently, freight shipments are being targeted by thieves and gangs. This becomes a public safety issue when those trains are carrying firearms or explosives,” said Governor Quinn. “Railroad police do not always have the tools necessary to track down thieves, which is why it is important to involve local law enforcement.”
Senate Bill 3546 requires railroad police to notify local law enforcement, including the county sheriff and the Illinois State Police when a rail shipment of firearms, explosives or other weapons are reported missing. Currently, railroad police conduct investigations of such thefts but do not take fingerprints left at the crime scene. The new law is aimed at helping law enforcement officials conduct more thorough investigations.
The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) and Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago), and was an initiative of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Gangs, especially those in Chicago, are increasingly choosing to target freight trains carrying explosives or firearms for theft.
"So many times, violent incidents in our jail happen because our officers think a cell door is locked, when in fact the locking system has been manipulated," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said. "We've been able to address most of the problems associated with the use of 'poppers' but we still see them used when inmates are planning an attack on an officer or another inmate. A law allowing us to criminally charge those we find in possession of 'poppers' will only help us in securing our facility and protecting our officers."
Senate Bill 3546 passed the Illinois General Assembly unanimously and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2011.
Governor Quinn also highlighted two new laws that are initiatives of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and will enhance public safety in Illinois by strengthening penalties for dog fighting and bringing certain tools into jails and prisons.
Governor Quinn signed House Bill 5790 into law on Saturday. The new law increases penalties for individuals who are found guilty of dog fighting violations. The law was initiated after the Cook County Sheriff’s Office uncovered a major dog fighting ring in Maywood that was being run out of a daycare facility. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2011.
Governor Quinn also highlighted Senate Bill 3503, which was signed into law on Monday. Under the new law, individuals are prohibited from bringing tools into prisons that are intended to help inmates evade security measures. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has faced several recent incidents in which tools called poppers have been used by inmates attempting to escape from the county jail. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2011.